Greenethorpe's Will Hodges has gained a confidence boost ahead of his Grafton To Inverell title defence this weekend with a fifth placing in another of Australia's great one-day classics, the Melbourne To Warrnambool.
The Giant Racing Team rider who grew up in Greenethorpe and is a member of the Bathurst Cycling Club found himself right in the mix in last Saturday's Melbourne to Warrnambool but he and chasing group came up just short of catching breakaway winner Jensen Plowright (Team Bridgelane).
Hodges was just a couple of bike lengths off the podium.
"At the end of the day I'm happy with that because the Olympic team were there and that's the best of the best in Australia, and they're all in good form," Hodges said.
At the end of the day I'm happy with that because the Olympic team were thereWill Hodges
"There were forecasted windy conditions, which would have suited me, but it ended up being a nice day and it looked like it would be a big group finish.
"With 30km to go I was thinking that wasn't going to suit me and I didn't think a result was going to come from it. I was trying to be aggressive and I managed to get away for a while and I ended up fifth.
"It's annoying when you can see the victory just there in front of you but at the end of the day it's a great result."
Hodges enters the upcoming Grafton To Inverell as the defending champion, having won the 2019 edition before last year's race was cancelled due to COVID-19.
"I had a couple of easier days before a hard one today and the legs felt pretty good," Hodges said.
"Without so much racing going on for the last few months it was good to get one long day of hard racing. No matter how training goes you're never sure how you're going to go on race day so it was good to get a bit of race speed in the legs.
"This coming weekend should suit me a little better, being a bit harder all day. You're a bit more on the pedals."